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So what is a pogocello? Read a definition on Wikipedia. Listen to the pogocello solo in the band's signature version of Flop-Eared Mule. Or read the how-to below and study the Close-Ups to see how David "Doc" Rosen helped an aspiring pogocellist from Trollhatten, Sweden to build his own pogocello and play "Supercalifragilicousexpialidocius" in concert. You too can be a pogocellist!

How can I build a pogocello?

From Anders:

I'm a percussionist in an orchestra in Trollhattan, Sweden. At our next concert we are about to play "Selections from Walt Disney's Mary Poppins", an arrangement for military band by Irwin Kostal edited by Alfred Reed. In parts of it (the tune "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocius") there is noted to play on a Pogo Cello (or any stick with rattles), together with washboard, tambourine, drum set etc. The tempo is Brightly (in 2) with 4 quarter notes per bar for the Pogo Cello, alternatively hit on floor and slap. Now to my wonderings. As a percussionist, I like to try to recreate whatever the sound is that is noted in the scores. Do you have the possibility to help me out by - describing what a Pogo Cello looks like (description, photo etc) - telling me what it consists of that makes sounds - telling me how you handle it to make it sound - trying to describe the sounds or anything else that you can think of that can help me recreate a sound as like a Pogo Cello as possible?

Essentials of the Pogocello, from David:

Hello Anders,

Over the years, I have made several pogocellos myself, including the one I play now in the Gloucester Hornpipe and Clog Society. This one is a special one. It is filled with relief woodcarvings, a creation of my wife, who is a woodcarver. Here's what all pogocellos have in common. The essential elements are:

1) a board approximately five or six feet high, 1/2 inch thick, and 3 inches wide, held vertically;

2) a bolt fastened to the back of the board at the bottom with two eye screws. Surrounding this bolt is an outward-coiling spring. When you bang the board on a wooden stage or other hard surface it makes a thumping, bass sound. You don't lift it up -- it springs up on its own -- like bouncing pogo stick -- hence the name "pogocello."

3) a cookie or cake tin (I like Danish cookie tins myself) fastened to the stick with screws, about two feet from the bottom

4) a wire -- I use braided baling wire -- fastened at the top and bottom with eye screws, which goes across the cookie tin, and which is tightened with a turnbuckle

5) a bracket bolted onto the cookie tin holding a piece of bent coat hanger so that it is fastened at one end to the wire, and so that the other end rests lightly against the cookie tin

6) a threaded wooden rod, about 2 1/2 feet long which is drawn like a bow across the braided bailing wire When the threaded wooden rod is drawn across the tightened wire it causes the bent coat hanger to repeatedly rap against the cookie tin. This makes a sound like a snare drum roll. Thumping the stick on a stage gives a bass sound. The especially loud alternating bass and snare sounds produced by the instrument are like a bass and snare drum in a New Orleans traditional Jazz band. I have played the pogocello in a blues band, a soul music band, a bluegrass band and -- for many years in the Gloucester Hornpipe and Clog Society which plays Celtic, french Canadian, and other kinds of folk music. It is especially good for marches (as you might imagine) but also for polkas, reels and other traditional dance tunes.

7) many interesting things can be attached to the stick to give some percussive variations : tin can lids, jingle bells, bottle caps, a cow bell, a wood block, perhaps a tambourine. I have tin lids, and jingle bells on my current pogocello, and I also sometimes have a cow bell.

Having written this I realize how difficult it must be to imagine without actually seeing it. So, I'll try to take a digital picture to send to you. (See below.)


What a colorful description! I have some further questions to clarify the construction:

  • Is both the stick and the board vertical attached to each other or is the board horisontally attached to the end of the stick ?

  • Assuming the board is vertical, how much of the spring is outside the board (is it only the spring that hits the floor or does the spring compress that much so the board hits the floor too) ?

  • I'm not familiar with the expression "braided bailing wire", is it some kind of metal wire (like a string to a bass guitar) or is it some kind of a cord to keep a bale of hay together ?

  • Is the coat hanger made of wood, plastic or metal wire ?

  • I have problems to imagine how the bracket, the coat hanger, the tin and the wire are attached to each other and working together to make the sound. Is the bracket attached to the middle or one end of the coat hanger ?

Your description reminds me of a picture I saw in a "make your own instruments" book I saw at the library. I shall see if I can find that book again, scan the picture and send it to you. The instrument was called (straight translation from swedish) a Devil's fiddle."

Anders in Concert

Hello David. The concert went well, and yes, I made my own pogocello. It was a success. Not good looking, but functional. The only thing I couldn't solve was how to get the tuning screw to keep the string tension.

David "Doc" Rosen's pogocello, carved by Rita Dunipace.